Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Imperial Beginnings, Metric Final

I said, "Is it better to open with a sensational line, like a Dick Francis novel—'I looked at my friend and saw a man who had robbed me', or, 'They both wore thin rubber masks'—or is it better to open with something mildly interesting, like Jane Eyre's 'There was no possibility of taking a walk that day'? Which is better, the brash or the subtle?"

"Better?" he said. "The best is entirely different from these. Go to Jane Austen: 'It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife'. It's surprising, because it's an amusing opening line. And when does that ever happen? Brilliant. It's subtle because it approaches a major latterly-explained theme of the novel indirectly, through satire. Set-up, set-up, set-up. It's engaging, because it's a supremely well-written well-weighted sentence. It's better, because, without sacrificing the what-comes-next of all good opening lines, it's far more self-explanatory, say, than Orwell's 'It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen'. Sensational, that. Instant get-up-and-go. Orwell's opening is so arresting, it should be charged for illegally impersonating an officer of the law. What a burner of a line—but Austen's is better, son, it's just so much better."

I signed up, months ago, to write a 50 000 word novel in 30 days. Because that's how I roll, suckers. And even though none of us flagellants who signed up are allowed to write one word of le actual plot before midnight on the day, I'm obsessing over opening lines. And I just can't decide.

Reading: Nevermind the politics of it. The king insults the dead, and the families of the dead, by ordering the fallen carcasses of his enemies to lie unburied on the highway. The sister of the unburied man refuses to let her brother's body publicly rot. She breaks the king's rule and is killed. Her lover, the king's son, attacks his father, but then kills himself. His mother, the king's wife, hears that her son is dead and also kills herself. The king is ruined and can barely speak. You thought Lear did it first, or Saul before him, but no, it was Creon, who, speaking loudly and angering divinity, first brought destruction upon himself through his own damn careless words. That's what hung him. Leave him alone, you say? Have you read the play? It's hard to pity the fool, you know, when he's such a proud blistering ass. Don't believe me? Your heart's harder than the king's in Antigone + Sophocles

Listening: She's good, ok, and I love her voice singing "For the love of God" after she sings "But the war won't stop". And, one day, she might leave her band, I can see it, and find her stride hitting singles out of the park in a home-run contest with Gwen Stefani. "No doubt", you say, and nod your head. This is, what, the fourth time she's hit Edmonton in the last twelve months? I like her, I keep saying, and you like her, too, that's obvious, but she likes us just as much as we like her. Which is why she'll be here for the fresh new CD on the 27th. Well, but forget us for a moment, what about Down South? She's doing one thing to the Americans I never thought anybody could. She's selling them on the Metric system, isn't she? But then, why not? I don't think this band has put out one single bad song. She's part of the whole Broken Social Scene, too, like just about every friggin indie-darling in Canada outside of the two loners in DFA79. Listen, when it comes down to it, the music is solid, her voice is wonderful and confident, and the band takes away all excuses to dance and hands out little cards with "Permision To Strike Poses" printed on them in a quasi-miltary font. Cadence Weapon likes them, Fluxblog has new stuff. Go, Emily! Hit up the "Media" option on their website for some stellar "Dead Disco" + Metric

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